A friend and I were talking about accepting help and how hard it is to relent and say yes to receiving help. It was a simple thing, a couple meals being brought to her home after a hand surgery, and yet, the first instinct was to say no and to move forward not accepting the offer for help. She stood across from me and said why is it so easy for me to help others and yet so hard for me to accept help for myself?
It’s this crazy thing that we as women and mothers can do to ourselves. I’ve found myself buried in life – in those times after having a baby or after a surgery or even after Samuel was in the hospital – and then the offers for the meals will come in or help with the laundry and I’ll find that the immediate answer from my mouth is no, I’m fine. Accepting help, admitting that one doesn’t have it all together, feels so vulnerable to me. It’s like revealing that I don’t have everything all packaged together in a neatly tied bow and that deep down I’m failing at this thing called life. It’s ironic how accepting help is sometimes so subtly linked to having life all together.
I should stop and simply say yes, thank you.
Instead, I’ll rationalize reasons why I can handle it myself. For me, it’s this silly pride and perfectionism about wanting to appear like I can keep everything running perfectly even when life is throwing me speed bumps faster than I can move. I remember several years ago after Samuel returned home from the hospital when my super dear to me friend Maria came over – pretty much by force because I was still saying no – and cleaned my kitchen. She scrubbed my floors, wiped down the cabinets, and did all of these tasks that I had gotten behind on.
It was humbling, but beautiful. She gave of herself, of her time, of her energies, for me, her friend.
Isn’t that the real truth about someone offering to help another? They are offering to give to another person, and yet, so often if you’re like me, the initial answer is too whisper back the no, I’m fine, answer.
Do you know that when I’ve helped others that it blesses me in return? There is something wonderful about living a life that isn’t so centered on self. Those moments when we can give of our time for others in need are in fact gifts to not only them, but to ourselves as well.
As this friend and I were talking about accepting help and giving and all of that we came to the realization that when we accept help from others it actually blesses them in return. They are putting themselves on the line – being open and giving – and if pride, perfectionism, or keeping the illusion of having life all together gets in the way we are in fact denying them the gift of that moment of giving. And sometimes it might even be letting someone in to your life and admitting that you really don’t care about the perfect life.
Look at history. Culture. The barn raising, going out west traveling together, crossing the ocean, raising children together moments embedded in who we are – we are not meant to do this life on our own strength. The more we pull away from helping and accepting help the more isolated we become. We’re a culture of opening our garages, parking our cars inside, and shutting the door – less and less willing to share in the nitty gritty mess moments of life. And thus, the hypothetical perfectionism bar of living a perfect life is consistently raised.
There is beauty in opening one’s door, inviting someone into a not-so-perfect life, not apologizing for the mess on the living room floor, and saying thank you as another gives of their time for you when you’re in a place where the thing you need most is for someone to walk alongside you and tell you you’re not alone.
I do not believe we were meant to journey through this life without those moments where one comes to the door with a bucket of cleaning supplies in hand or a plate of food – those raw helping moments for another in need. Those are, in fact, the moments that etch themselves in our hearts – those times when others cared enough to see us and give of self for us.
Today, today, in a way, this post is about releasing oneself from the burden of having the perfect life. It doesn’t exist – it’s a nebulous dream to chase perfection – and it’s a posture that means saying no instead of yes. Instead, instead, today, be that friend that says yes when one is in need and opens the door, and thus opening life and celebrating the real journey – with it’s bumps, twists, and turns.
You have no idea what a blessing you are to others when you do that.
Accepting help is really a beautiful thing.